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Email newsletters/mailouts - outmoded?
rbrt




msg:3688580
 3:59 pm on Jul 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

I want to convince management that we need to make changes to our mailout system.

For this to work I will have to first convince them that staff are spending a lot of time on a form of communication/marketing that is yielding very little benefit. (It's a lot of time, trust me.) I need some information supporting my belief that email newsletters are a thing of the past, or at least overvalued: messages get spam/junk filtered, users adopt delete or ignore behaviours rather than unsubscribe or read behaviours, etc. etc. The whole email newsletter thing seems really 1990s...

I already know that management will tell me that email newsletters form a part of their "covering all bases" strategy, and they're probably right. (RSS hasn't reached high enough levels of adoption that it could entirely replace email, for example.) But what would a streamlined, 21st-century mailout system look like? What technologies would it use, what content would it include, and what mistakes of the past would it avoid? How might it come together with a unified CRM or other bits and pieces?

I'm interested in pretty much anything you all have to say, since Googling this topic tends to dredge up only "how to do teh Internet marketing" type sites or archives of actual mailing lists.

 

rogerd




msg:3688623
 4:39 pm on Jul 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

Deliverability is an issue, as is ending up in crowded inboxes and not getting opened.

Having said that, I think email newsletters, sale flyers, etc. can still be effective. The key is to make them relevant to the reader and not so frequent that they are annoying.

There are tools to measure variables like what percent opened the item, how many clicked through, how many actually bought or took some other desired action. I think better testing, monitoring, and tweaking are practices that will grow as mindless mass mailings become less effective.

Welcome to WebmasterWorld, rbrt!

pageoneresults




msg:3688670
 5:44 pm on Jul 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

Welcome to WebmasterWorld rbrt!

I need some information supporting my belief that email newsletters are a thing of the past, or at least overvalued:

I don't think you'll find that here. I strongly advocate the use of Newsletters, they are a gold mine for branding and revenue. Each time we send out an announcement, sales spike shortly thereafter so we know they work and they always have. In fact, they continue to do better as we improve mail deliverability rates through improved technology and understanding of the systems.

The whole email newsletter thing seems really 1990s.

Its not. Newsletters can be extremely effective if planned properly, sent at the right times, etc.

rocknbil




msg:3688675
 5:55 pm on Jul 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

For this to work I will have to first convince them that staff are spending a lot of time on a form of communication/marketing that is yielding very little benefit.

Upper management always seems to respond to numbers. Maybe they just glaze over and think, "well, these numbers must mean something so let's go with it," or maybe they see something valuable. :-) If you want to sway them, you need to begin collecting data on what kind of results you're (not) getting from the mailings. PR1's comments are an example - they get a spike of sales after the mailing, proving it's worth in that situation.

Or . . . in collecting the data you may discover they are more valuable than you thought?

pageoneresults




msg:3688695
 6:31 pm on Jul 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

Or . . . in collecting the data you may discover they are more valuable than you thought?

I would sure hope that those numbers are readily available immediately after sending, in real time!

Yes, numbers tell all. I'll give you another example. I have one site that averages 0000+ uniques per day. There is a newsletter that goes out twice a month. Visitors jump to over 00,000+ (100%+ increase) during that day with a sharp decline and back to normal within 24-48 hours. During that first 24 hour period, sales are through the roof. Management actually wakes up that morning looking forward to the Newsletter blast as they know their quotas are going to be met shortly thereafter, its proven twice a month, every month for years.

The number one factor in all of this is the "cleanliness" of your list. We'll assume you are working with an Opt-In list that has been developed over time? That this is not some purchased CD for $79.00 that has over 1.5 million email addresses and 1.49999 million of them are invalid? Newsletters don't work if they are sent to those who don't want them. In fact, sending commercial (UCE) and/or bulk email (UBE) to non opt-in subscribers is against the law in the United States although it isn't enforced to any high degree.

If your newsletters are not having a return, something is wrong. Every single newsletter I've been involved with has "always" had a return whether it was monetary and/or brand related.

For this to work I will have to first convince them that staff are spending a lot of time on a form of communication/marketing that is yielding very little benefit.

Something is wrong then. Either the message is not clear, or the look and feel along with the process used for sending out the newsletters is flawed. They really do work and to think of them as something from the 90s would be an injustice. I'd be real careful in how you approach management about this. You might be surprised at their reaction if you are attempting to push the "so 90s" routine on them, it may just backfire on you. There are a lot of us Baby Boomers who enjoy reading a good Newsletter and then making a suggested purchase after reading. :)

maximillianos




msg:3691055
 1:45 pm on Jul 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

Newsletters are our single most important strategy for attaining search engine independence. So I would respectfully disagree that they are a thing of the past.

rbrt




msg:3692148
 1:21 pm on Jul 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

Interesting replies, everyone. I'm actually surprised at the number of responses I've gotten that are in favour of newsletters/mailing lists. I still, however, want to suggest something new, as a significant number of our customers are in the youth age bracket and I still think this demographic responds better to other technologies (MySpace, blogs, that sort of thing). I think what I'll do is propose we keep the mailing lists (some of our products are targeted at an older market) but find out a way to single-source our content so that one piece of content could just as easily be a blog (for the youngers) an RSS feed (for the tech-savvy) and a newsletter (for traditionalists).

Anyone have any experience with this sort of thing?

maximillianos




msg:3692418
 4:56 pm on Jul 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

What you are asking is exactly what we have been doing for years. We use Feedburner. They offer both e-mail subscription and every possible form of RSS subscriptions from one source, your XML.

Simply post your newsletter as an XML/RSS feed and let Feedburner do the rest... for free. =)

piatkow




msg:3695372
 1:17 pm on Jul 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

With newsletters you are pushing the information to the client. Every other on-line option depends on an active decision to go and get it.

Most users are not particularly web savvy and don't want to be. This certainly isn't related to age, education or social status. I have a 91 year old client who still runs his own business and deals quite happily with the web and graduates who just can't hack it at all.

I have three golden rules for my newsletters:
1. Not too often
2. keep the list clean
3. Keep content tight and link back to the site for full info

maximillianos




msg:3695393
 1:45 pm on Jul 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

The "how often" question is tough to decide. Some folks do once a month. Other do weekly. Some do daily.

I prefer something in between. I send out 2-3 newsletter a week. It helps me keep in touch with my readers, but at the same time I'm not in their inbox every single day.

It seems to work well since my subscriptions keep going up and not down... =)

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